Museum Minute: Buffalo Bill's Childhood Home

Jul 20, 2018

Buffalo Bill Cody’s two-story childhood home stands in the courtyard of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. It’s the largest object in the Center’s collection.

But before its permanent home become the Center, it was originally brought out to Wyoming by a Burlington railroad official. Buffalo Bill was born in Le Claire, Iowa. His family moved into the house around 1849. Eventually, they moved to Kansas where the family ran into all sorts of problems due to conflict over the expansion of slavery, so the home represents the peaceful agricultural lifestyle they left behind in Iowa.

In 1922, an official for the Burlington railroad found out it was for sale. The house was brought to Cody where it was located next to the Burlington railroad depot. The official purchased it on the premise to try and lure tourists away from other railroad destinations like the Northern Pacific Railroad into Gardiner, Montana. The railroad realized that Buffalo Bill was quite a selling point for their line to Cody so it was a marketing technique.